A U.S. judge said Thursday that Prince Andrew can request the unsealing of a 2009 settlement agreement that his lawyer claims protects him from a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted a girl two decades ago.In a written order, Manhattan Judge Loretta A. Preska stated that the prince can seek the information to support arguments that the agreement between Virginia Giuffre and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein precludes her lawsuit against the prince.
On Monday, the prince’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, told a Manhattan federal judge that the settlement agreement “absolves our client from any and all liability.”Brettler testified at the first court hearing following Giuffre’s August lawsuit, in which she claimed Andrew abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was under the age of 18. Andrew has stated that the abuse never occurred.In response to an email sent on Thursday, Brettler had no immediate comment.Brettler’s remark on Monday was cited in court papers filed by Giuffre’s lawyers on Thursday, in which they asked a judge to rule that the prince was properly notified of Giuffre’s lawsuit.
They claimed that the prince was “actively evading” formal attempts to serve him with Giuffre’s lawsuit. Brettler planned to raise a defense based on a 2009 settlement between Giuffre and Epstein in a Florida state case in which Andrew was not a party, according to the lawyers. Preska has granted requests to unseal large portions of court filings related to Giuffre’s 2015 lawsuit against Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell.
The defamation lawsuit, which claimed Maxwell called Giuffre a liar and subjected her to “public ridicule, contempt, and disgrace,” was settled and dismissed in May 2017.The prince was mentioned by the judge in an order rejecting attorney Alan Dershowitz’s request to unseal “a settlement agreement” that was designated confidential and sealed as part of records in Giuffre’s lawsuit against Maxwell.
The judge ruled that Dershowitz, who claimed he was seeking the unsealing “as a matter of professional ethics” because he believes Giuffre’s claims in the lawsuit against Andrew are barred by the settlement, cannot obtain the records because he is not a party to Andrew’s lawsuit.
“To the best of our knowledge,” Preska wrote, “Mr. Dershowitz has not been commissioned as a roving ethics monitor.”“However, the Court notes that parties withstanding… and possibly Prince Andrew, who has not been heard from… may seek to lift the protective order for valid reasons,” she added. Dershowitz’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Thursday.
According to Giuffre’s attorneys, the prince is “working with” Dershowitz to have a copy of the settlement papers unsealed “so he can share it with Prince Andrew.”
Maxwell, 59, is scheduled to stand trial in November on sex trafficking charges stemming from allegations that she procured girls for Epstein to sexually abuse for at least a decade beginning in 1994. She has entered a not-guilty plea. Unless a person chooses to come forward publicly, such as Giuffre, the Associated Press does not usually identify people who claim to be victims of sexual assault.
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